Vintage Secretary : The Perfect Addition to Our Living Room

This vintage secretary found a perfect place in our home.  We have a very bare wall between our front door and the large picture window in our living room that I haven’t been able to figure out what to do with.  While I was finishing up this piece I started envisioning it there and just knew it would work.  I’m so happy it did.  It is the perfect addition to our living room!

This secretary has been sitting in my basement since I picked it up from an estate sale this past summer. I was out garage sale-ing with my 2-year-old daughter that day and happened to see the estate sale sign while we were out.  I wasn’t expecting to buy any furniture since I was just driving our little compact car, but I found this piece and the price was perfect.  I just had to have it.  So, I paid for it and asked them to hold it for me while I ran home to make arrangements to pick it up.  They were fine with that, since my house was just a couple miles away.  I hopped back in the car and drove the short distance home, woke up my hubby, and asked him to please hook up the trailer to the car because I needed him to help me get this piece of furniture home.  It’s a good thing he loves me so much and was willing to help me!  😉

The secretary sat and sat in our basement as I bought more furniture pieces and kind of forgot about it.  Then the other day, I was starting to feel a bit claustrophobic in my packed basement and turned to this piece and thought I should probably get started on it.

I loved the lines on this piece when I first saw it, but those metal grates someone had put in the “windows” were not my fave!  When I was first looking at the piece at the estate sale, the woman showed me the original pieces that the grates had replaced.

Once I saw them, I really knew I had to have it!  The design is so pretty.  They look like old church windows.  I don’t know why anyone would have replaced these pretty things with those terrible grates!I debated sanding them down and restaining them because they are a tad bit tattered, but in the end I really loved how they looked old and worn and how that fit in perfectly with how I repainted the piece.

I painted the whole piece with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  The body is Duck Egg and the interior colors are Old White and Coco.

Check out this little gem I found on the small drawer while I was painting.  Apparently the secretary was originally finished on June 1st, 1944 and was priced at $25.00.  I love finding little snapshots in history like that.

I found these vintage wooden carpenters’ rulers at an antique shop while out and about with my husband a few weekends ago.  They were a great price, so I snatched them up knowing I could find somewhere in my house to use them!  Funny thing is, when I picked them up my husband said “oh, I think we have some of those in the barn” – meaning his parents’ pole barn.  And then when we got to his parents’ house later that day, his dad said the same thing!  So I may be adding to my new collection of vintage carpenters’ rulers…if we ever find the additional ones in the barn!  :)

When I was searching the house for items to put on the secretary display shelves, I found my sheep in the basement looking all lonely.  We got them on our honeymoon in Martha’s Vineyard, but I hadn’t been able to find a good place for them in this house yet.  This is the perfect place for them where I can see them everyday.  They are just the cutest little sheep family, aren’t they?



And if you have a keen eye, you may have noticed Marian Parson’s (Miss Mustard Seed) new book “Inspired You” sitting on the desk of the secretary.  I got the book for Christmas and have really enjoyed reading it.  So much so that I will be giving away a copy on my blog soon, so stay tuned for details on that coming up!

Thanks for visiting today!  I just want to take a second and say thank you to each and every one of you who read my posts.  I really enjoy this journey I’m on and am so glad I get to share it with you all!

Allison sig

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    • says

      You are so silly! You make me laugh! Thank you for the very sweet compliment. I finally feel like I’m beginning to find my own personal style and get a bit more confident in what I’m doing. So glad to hear other’s are enjoying it!

  1. says

    I totally spotted that Miss Mustard Seed book. 😉 Reading it right now too and loving it. It will be a great giveaway! I am totally amazed by your talent to makeover such beautiful pieces. Can we go shopping?? 😉 I’m with you on the metal grate pieces. The original panes are much more beautiful! And the sheep are extra cute too.

  2. says

    so gorgeous it hurts!

    popping over via miss mustard seed and hope you’ll stop by when you have a moment.

    smiles to you and happy weekend.


  3. says

    What a lovely secretary! I just love the cathedral insets. The colors are very soft and pretty. I’d love it if you linked this to my new linky party, “What We’ve Accomplished Wednesdays.”

    Have a great weekend!

  4. says

    It is gorgeous. I love the color. You did an amazing job. I agree that the original glass is much better. I have a secretary that needs to be refinished.

  5. says

    Great choices for the chalk paint, definitely like it better with the original inserts. Don’t you just love discovering the history behind old furniture pieces? Thank you for sharing!

    Katie @ The Inveterate Homemaker

  6. says

    This is fantastic! Duck Egg Blue is one of my favorite ASCP colors. I love the windows and love how you kept it shabby chic. I’m loving Marian’s book too (so inspiring). Thanks for sharing the secretary at Silver Pennies Sundays x

  7. says

    Absolutely love this! I have a Chippenham-style desk that I have been wanting to redo and this would be perfect. I love this color so much that if I lived alone, this would be the main color in my home.

  8. says

    It’s stunning, Allison. Love the color, love the character and love your accents. Beautiful job all around! Thank you so much for sharing. Sometimes I want to “shop” from the party links! This would be in my cart for sure! haha!


  9. Anonymous says

    Oh Allison you have inspired me to paint some tables in my living room Duck Egg Blue. This secretary is so beautiful! I love those little sheep….lin

  10. says

    Thanks so much for linking to Make the Scene Monday @ Alderberry Hill. You are being featured tomorrow morning!
    I hope you are having a wonderful weekend, and join me tomorrow night for Make the Scene Monday #61!

  11. says

    The perfect color. The perfect amount of tattering. The perfect arched window grates, I guess you could say you did a perfect job! I would be proud to have it in my home. Keep inspiring us.

  12. says

    Beautiful job. I’ve been looking for an antique secretary – no luck yet! Love the way you left the “windows”.
    I’m a new follower :-).

    • Allison says

      Thanks Mandy! So glad to have you here! I hope you find a secretary someday soon! I really enjoyed redoing this one! :)

  13. SandyM says

    First time visitor… This is beautiful! Could you estimate how much ASCP this piece took? I am ready to try it but have heard it goes pretty far, so not sure how much to get.

    • Allison says

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Sandy! To answer your question, I only used one coat on this piece since it covered the previous color well (a lot of times I use two coats, though). I probably only used about 1/10th of my quart of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. It really depends on how much coverage you want, what color the piece is starting with, and how much the paint soaks into the piece. Those variables will be different for every piece, so it is really hard to estimate how much you’ll need. I’d say buy a quart of an ASCP color you LOVE and you know you’ll have enough. Then you can always use the extra paint on another piece. Hope that helps!

  14. Cara says

    Love this piece!! Did you dilute the duck egg blue with white or is this the color straight out of the can?

    • Allison says

      Thanks Cara! The color is straight out of the can – but I did use a mixture of clear and dark waxes over it, so I guess it’s a little bit “browner” than the actual color – if that makes sense.

  15. AnnieVee says

    Oh I’ve loved this for so long…since you had it on MMS’s Furniture Feature Fridays… and I’ve been searching high and low…every day on Craigs List and Kijiji but all I have seen are $500 and UP! It’s just not happening, but occasionally I come back to your blog and and inspired to be patient. Some day my secretary will come. I too have a perfect spot for it. 😉

  16. debbi in Texas says

    Those door inserts are perfect the way they are and add so much to the entire piece to make it outstanding; nice job

  17. Anne says

    Hi Allison. Just wanted to say “I got it!” Yay! I finally found a secretary that I can do just like yours! Oh I’m so excited. I have come back to this page so many times… and looked around your whole house… and at all your beautiful projects and decor ideas. Your personal stories are just that… personal… and honest… and real. Thank you for being such an inspiration. Now I need to get on with it. But… I’ll be back. :)

    • Allison @ The Golden Sycamore says

      Thank you so much for all your sweet words, Anne! It means so much to hear that I have inspired even one person! It’s such a blessing to me! Best wishes on your secretary! Let me know how it goes! :)

  18. Linda Weeks says

    ..Uh…I don’t actually have a website – but I had wanted to ask if you removed the inside to paint it the white color – mine is similar, but I wouldn’t know how to go about removing the little inside shelves etc. Could you let me know? I’m getting ready to try a similar approach to my secretary who is currently mahogany! Thanks, thank you veddy veddy much!

    • Allison @ The Golden Sycamore says

      Hi Linda! I didn’t remove any shelves. It was a real pain to paint all the nooks and crannies and it took several coats. I was really tired of it by the end, but it was worth it. Just use a small paint brush and take your time. Happy painting!

  19. says

    This is beautiful. I had an antique secretary in my room growing up, so they always catch my eye. :) I love how you left the mullions unpainted, and the chair is just perfect with it!

  20. says

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  21. Beth Wright says

    Allison, I know this post is a little old….but Pinerest popped up your secretary and I fell in love with it. I just acquired a 1940’s secretary and your blog has inspired me to paint mine. I love how you left the fret work (?)….I call them “window panes” in the natural stained wood. My question is: Did you remove the hinges on the fold out desk part? My hinge contraption is quite sophisticated for an old piece, and I am afraid that if I remove it, I will have trouble reinstalling it. But If I don’t remove it….it will be very challenging to tape off and paint. Any help would be appreciated. I love ALL your furniture makovers, by the way! You have a special gift! Thank you

    • Allison @ The Golden Sycamore says

      I believe I removed it, Beth, but mine was very simple. Maybe take pictures as you disassemble it, so you can look back on them when you have to put it back together? And keep everything together in a bag so you don’t lose anything! 😉

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